You have a choice about how you experience the world. You have control over your perception of things as they are. You get to decide what you are exposed to and what you blind yourself to.
In an age when news is broadcast through so many different media, from so many different perspectives, it is entirely down to the individual to choose the world they live in.
You can choose never to read the articles about mass shootings. You can choose to switch over to a glamorous reality show whenever the news is on the television. You can edit all your social media channels so that they only show you the good in the world.
If you want to, all you ever have to see of the world outside your immediate vicinity is pictures of orang-utans adopting tiger cubs as their own, of kittens who are best friends with puppies, of small children doing sweet things for their friends. If you want, you can live in a bubble of hope and innocence.
If you want, you can live in echo chamber populated by people who agree with everything you say.
If you want, you never have to know anything of any of the pain or suffering in the world. You don’t need to pay attention to politics or war or conflict. You can ignore all the aspects of the world that aren’t perfect. You can forget that people in far flung corners of the world suffer from poverty and starvation and corruption.
You can forget that there are homeless people living in your own city, even.
There are things in this world that are not nice. Some of them are downright monstrous. And you are lucky enough to have the option to ignore it all and just get on with your own life as if nothing else matters.
It’s an easier world to live in. A more pleasant one. One that you’ll probably enjoy being a part of a lot more.
But it’s not real.
You’re only seeing part of the picture when you do that. You’re lying to yourself and ignorance is not bliss forever.
And, even if you can cling onto that beautiful lie until the day you die, it is only beautiful for you. Pretending that there is no suffering in the world doesn’t make it true for the people who see every day as a struggle.
By choosing to stand apart from the negativity in the world, you choose to allow it to happen unchecked. You put yourself in a position where you cannot possibly make a difference.
If you refuse to acknowledge the injustice in the world, you can’t do anything about it. You become a part of the system that perpetrates and propagates the suffering and the cruelty by pretending it isn’t happening.
The world will only become a better place if you choose to make it one. But first you have to know what’s wrong with it. You have to know what needs fixing before you can repair any of the damage.
That means that you have to accept some pretty horrible things. You have to make yourself aware of the depths to which humanity is capable of sinking.
Even when it’s not happening directly to you, just seeing injustices wreaked upon other people can be heart breaking. It can destroy your faith in mankind and can even feel like motivation to block it all out. It can be so horrific it turns you against your fellow man.
But it can also be the motivation to make a change.
It has to be.
If cruelty and murder and injustice is going to serve any purpose in the world, let it be that it inspires you to change the world. Let it be that it motivates you to treat people with love and compassion. Let it be the force that drives you to make this planet a better place to be for everyone who lives here, because we can’t go anywhere else.
Kirstie Summers is journalist whose day job takes her to all the most interesting places and events in South London. She also freelances for a number of sites and publications, from gaming and literature reviews to creative fiction. She lives in London and spends as much of her free time as possible making the most of being in such a diverse city. She keeps one day a week to herself to swim, relax and keep the stress of the world at bay.